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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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LKDER  TON   HTTMBOLI>T.                 24S
was sent to unchain the ocean, man has been able to
move more freely in intellectual regions/"
EARTBTQUAKES.
.    .   .    "The impression which the first earthquake,
even if it is unaccompanied   by  subterranean noise,
makes upon us, is an inexpressibly powerful and quite
peculiar one.    This  impression is not, I believe, the
consequence  of our recurrence to pictures of desola-
tion which are present to our imagination  from  tra-
dition and history.    "What moves us so powerfully is,
the disappointment of our inherent faith in the repose
and immutability of the firm, solid earth.    From our
childhood we are accustomed to contrast the moveable
element of water with the quiescence of the soil on
which we stand.   All the evidences of our senses have
confirmed us in this faith.    When now the soil sud-
denly quakes, a secret power of nature appears myste-
riously.,   as  an active force,  moving the immovable.
A moment destroys- the illusions of a life.    We are
undeceived as to the repose of earth,  and feel trans-
ported  within  the   sphere   of   destroying, unknown
powers.    Every sound, the least agitation in the air,
excites our attention.    "We scarcely trust the ground
on which we stand. The strangeness of the occurrence
produces the same   anxious * uneasiness  in   axdinals.
Pigs and dogs especially are overpowered by it; the
crocodiles of the  Orinoco, generally as dumb as our
little lizards, leave' the agitated bed of the river, and
rush howligg into the forests. To man, an earthquake
appears as something omnipresent, unbounded.    We
can escape from an active eruption., or from a lava-
stream flowing towards our dwelling ; but during" an
earthquake^ wherever  one flies seems the hearth of
destruction.    This condition of the mind iss fcowever,
not of long duration.    If a series of faint earthquakes
follow upon each other, the inhabitants no longer feel
any trace of fear.    On the coasts of Pera, where it
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